Chicago’s Three Dr. Frankensteins

In the summer of 1882 while sitting in prison for killing a police officer, notorious criminal James Tracy was visited by Dr. Walter Haines, Dr. D. R. Browser and I. N. Danforth. The three doctors talked with Tracy about advances in modern science and convinced him to sign over his body after his death so they could revive him.

At 2: 02 p.m. on September 16, 1882 Tracy was hanged and pronounced dead eighteen minutes later by the County Physician. The condemned man’s body was allowed to hang until 2:33 when it was finally cut down and taken to an empty cell where the doctors began to apply electric current to his temples and spine. Within seconds, Tracy’s heart began to beat slowly and color returned to his cheeks and lips. As his heartbeat strengthened, Tracy’s arms and legs began to move and he made awkward facial expressions then opened his eyes and tried to speak.

As Tracy’s body flailed around on the table the three doctors were conflicted. Should they pull the plug and allow the now-living man to die one last time? Ultimately, the three doctors concluded that with a broken neck, James Tracy wouldn’t be able to live a normal life and ceased the experiment. It’s noted that all three felt a sense of sadness as they felt responsible for killing him.

Once the experiment was concluded, the three doctor Frankensteins turned Tracy’s remains over to an undertaker. He was then buried in Cavalry Cemetery.

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